Music distribution is a fast-growing area in the music industry and there are more choices than ever for independent musicians who want to release their music without a record label. This makes it difficult to choose the best music distribution service. That's why, after having years of experience using both, we wrote this comparison review to help you decide which is best for your music.
DistroKid vs TuneCore – Which is Best? (Quick Verdict)
Both Distrokid and Tunecore let you keep 100% of your royalties, split royalties, have great marketing tools and more. However, Distrokid is more affordable for multiple artists and is a better service. One major thing Tunecore has over Distrokid is it collects publishing royalties.
If you're a bigger musician or label that needs multiple artists and good customer support, go with Distrokid. From personal experience, the release process, support and pricing work out better for higher-tiered plans.
If you want publishing royalty collection and the potential to get artist advances, at the expense of customer support times, then go with Tunecore.
Both offer a very similar service and distribution times are close in terms of speed. However, there are some pros and cons of each, so please do your due diligence before deciding on one or the other.
Tunecore can get expensive for multiple artists, but so can Distrokid if you need extras (pricing explained below). Distrokid doesn't have a publishing royalty collection, but you can solve this by signing up to a service like PRS (they also have plans to create one in future).
Both have pretty awful revenue reports but hey… that's just music royalties for ya!
In terms of artist development tools – they're basically the same service with a different name. Distrokid takes the cake for us with better customer support, being a Spotify preferred distributor and working out cheaper for higher paying plans.
|Name||Price||Commission||Insta & TikTok?||SoundCloud Monetisation?||YouTube Monetisation?||Accepts Covers?||Spotify Pre Save?||Payment Threshold?||Asian Distribution?|
|Distrokid||$19.99/year (1 artists),|
$35.99/year (2 artists),
$79.99/year (5 artists),
$135.99/year (10 artists)
|0||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||$25||yes – tencent|
|TuneCore||$0 (Unlimited uploads to social media stores only, 15% commission, no release dates)|
$12.99/year (Unlimited releases, no commission, revenue splits, verification marks & release scheduling)
$24.99/year (Everything in the above + cover art creator, use your own ISRC & store automator)
$39.99/year (Everything in above + promotional opportunities, label functionality, use your own UPC, exclusive partnerships & more)
|15% or 0%||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||$0||yes – tencent|
If you’re an independent musician who wants to release music, then DistroKid is the best music distribution service to use.
Both DistroKid and TuneCore offer fast and wide music distribution services to almost all streaming platforms. They also both give independent artists many tools to promote their music and to develop their overall careers as an artist.
While both platforms are great for distribution it’s clear that DistroKid offers much better value for money – even if their additional features are more limited. Even though TuneCore offers better streaming royalty income on Spotify and Apple Music in the UK and the US, these numbers are marginal and you still get more bang for your buck if you use DistroKid.
TuneCore has recently overhauled its pricing model to become more competitive with DistroKid and both services charge zero commission on your releases, and instead they offer a yearly fee. While TuneCore is now better value on the lower pricing tiers, DistroKid still wins when it comes to higher-tiered subscription.
DistroKid is also more user-friendly, and it offers instant Spotify verification, faster distribution times and some exciting extras for promo. TuneCore has a better analytics system, but their customer service isn’t as good as DistroKid’s and their pricing model means that DistroKid is the worthwhile pick for musicians.
✅ Cheap annual subscription with unlimited distribution
✅ Keep 100% of streaming royalties
✅ On Spotify’s preferred distributor list
✅ Good customer service
✅ Easy automatic revenue split
✅ Great marketing tools and unique generators
✅ Access to DistroKid playlists
❌ Additional charges for extras like Shazam and legacy lock
❌ Don’t offer any help to collect your publishing royalties
❌ Extras can get expensive
✅ Don’t take any commission on your music
✅ Offer both digital and physical distribution
✅ Have a publishing team to help track down and pay royalties
✅ Great analytics and marketing tools
✅ Offers the opportunity to apply for artist advances
❌ Take 20% commission on releases for free plan users
❌ There’s an additional fee for adding artists to the pro plan
❌ The label support isn’t great for low tier users
❌ Free plan only submits to social media stores, not Apple Music or Spotify
Who Is Each Service For?
TuneCore and DistroKid are both aimed at independent artists. Both services offer certain advantages to artists and labels, depending on where they are on their career path. You should decide which one you use based on the level you're at.
They both offer relatively inexpensive distribution to all stores and allow users to quickly upload music and collect 100% royalties. This is ideal for independent musicians who want their music to be heard by as many people as possible and do not necessarily have the means to distribute it themselves.
However, the additional features offered by TuneCore and DistroKid are quite different, and this means that certain aspects of each distributor are more suited to musicians on different levels of their career trajectory.
From a label perspective, TuneCore and DistroKid both offer unique benefits to people running independent labels or releasing music for more than one artist.
For starters, Distrokid works out cheaper than Tunecore for multiple artists and the “use your own IRSC” feature. So, if these are important to you, then it's best to go with Distrokid. However, it can get expensive if you need to utilise some of their “extras”. But, this is also the same for Tunecore.
DistroKid and TuneCore additionally both offer an easy automatic royalty split system.
DistroKid’s & Tunecore's (new) royalty split system means it’s much easier to keep on top of money splits and it does it automatically which means everyone can trust each other and there’s an impartial body doing the splitting.
One bonus of TuneCore over Distrokid is that it offers a publishing arm which keeps track of your royalties outside streaming. This is incredibly useful for musicians because, if you’re trying to keep track of where the money is coming from on many different releases, it can become really confusing and they collect performance, mechanical and other royalties for you that can add up.
The fact that TuneCore takes care of this is super useful, but you could always sign up for ASCAP, BMI or PRS to help take care of this for you.
For artists further along their career path, TuneCore offers a really developed analytics dashboard which makes it much easier for artists to hone in on areas to develop and track their demographic for marketing and growth.
DistroKid is better suited for independent artists who are starting out as it provides a really easy to use service with great free marketing tools to help grow and develop as an artist and it offers these at a really affordable price.
Because of DistroKid’s simplicity and its great customer support, it’s suited to artists at any stage in their career and many notable artists are also using DistroKid to release music. This is why DistroKid is such a favourite in the music industry – you can’t really go wrong.
Which is Fastest To Distribute – DistroKid vs TuneCore
TuneCore and DistroKid have very similar distribution times. However, DistroKid has a reputation for being the fastest digital distribution company.
Both TuneCore and DistroKid are on Spotify’s preferred list of distributors – but DistroKid is at number 1 and TuneCore is one from the bottom. While this doesn’t make a huge difference it shows that both are trusted and established distributors and they will reliably get your music on Spotify in 2-5 days.
There are loads of reviews of people’s experiences of both TuneCore and DistroKid on forums such as Reddit and it seems that artists have had their music released after just 48 hours, using both distributors. Most people have not had to wait longer than 2 weeks.
However, there is a chance of your music being rejected, and there are good practices to use with distributors to ensure a smooth and speedy release.
There will be a holdup in your release if you don’t ensure the track description, audio, and artwork don’t meet the distributor’s guidelines. Your track may be pulled for manual review, which can take up to 2 weeks to go through, or it may be rejected.
Both TuneCore and DistroKid require a lot of information about a release when you are uploading to the distributor. While this may seem boring it is important you fill this data out properly and meet all their required guidelines otherwise your release may suffer.
For example, if you’re unclear about cover licencing, then your track will be pulled up for copyright issues which is a real pain to sort out. Similarly, stores are very particular about artist names so it’s important to be thorough when checking things through and keeping an eye out for capital letters and spaces.
TuneCore and DistroKid allow paying users to set their own release dates. If you’re using TuneCore you’ll need the ‘Rising Artist’ package or above and if you’re using DistroKid you’ll need ‘Musician Plus’ or above.
Setting a release date is pretty much essential for a smooth release. We recommend submitting your music to your distributor at least 3 weeks before your release. This means when you release music it will be available on all stores at the same time and not staggered if and when stores approve your music.
This allows for a much more effective release and fans will be able to engage with your music at the same time as soon as it is released and you can promote this date. This will massively improve your numbers on the first day and push your algorithmic performance as well as allowing you to submit your music to playlisters like Spotify’s own editorial selection.
Also, it gives you time to sort any issues if anything goes wrong.
If there are any issues with music distribution services then DistroKid and TuneCore both offer customer service support to artists. Customer service with TuneCore is staggered depending on which package you’re subscribed to. With the free tier they have a response time of 5 business days, with ‘Rising Artist’ it’s 72 hours, with ‘Breakout Artist’ it’s 48 hours, and with ‘Professional’ it’s 24 hours.
DistroKid offer a high level of customer service to all users whereas with TuneCore it depends on how much you’re paying.
Is There Any Difference in The Stores My Music Will Be Distributed To?
DistroKid and TuneCore both distribute to a huge number of stores, while there are some differences in minor stores in different territories, they both distribute to the same top level services like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Deezer, YouTube, Amazon, Napster etc.
Pay Per Stream – DistroKid vs TuneCore
On average TuneCore provides a slightly higher pay per stream than DistroKid.
Both TuneCore and DistroKid provide artists with 100% of their streaming royalties and this number is dependent on many factors such as the country of the stream and the agreement between the digital music stores and the distributor.
For example, on Apple Music in the UK, TuneCore pays an average of $0.0117 per stream whereas DistroKid pay $0.0108. This is because TuneCore and DistroKid have different agreements with Apple Music UK, where Apple Music keep a certain amount of streaming revenue and give the rest to the distributor.
This is different in the USA where DistroKid pay slightly more ($0.00685 per stream on Apple Music) than TuneCore (who pay $0.00682). This is because streaming services pay different amounts per stream depending on where the song was streamed.
While there is a fairly minimal difference between these numbers, it is well worth having a look before deciding on your distributor. If most of your streams are on Apple Music in the USA, then you’re going to earn slightly more with DistroKid.
Payment Times – DistroKid vs TuneCore
DistroKid and TuneCore take a similar amount of time to pay your streaming royalties. However the payment time varies depending on your chosen payment method, which platform your streams are coming from, and the country these streams originated in.
Normally, stores report a whole month’s sales/streams to DistroKid and TuneCore on a two-month delay. So, if a sale/stream of a song occurred in March, you would receive the report/breakdown and the money in May. Within a whole month, different stores report to TuneCore and DistroKid every weekend. iTunes’ sales are typically reported on the first weekend of the month and Spotify sales are typically reported on the last weekend of the month.
It then takes DistroKid 1-14 days to process your payment. The fastest payout option is PayPal, which often takes 48hrs, although there are many other options such as ACH, eCheck, Paper Check and Wire Transfer.
PayPal is DistroKid’s default payout option but here’s more information on all the choices they give you:
- PayPal – One of the fastest methods, funds should arrive within 48 hours. Fees are $1 plus 2% of the payment amount with a total ceiling of $2 in the U.S. Amounts over $10,000 will be split into separate payments.
- Wire – Most expensive fees per payment ($15 in US, $20 international in local currency and $26 International in USD). Arrives in your account instantly.
- eCheck – Can take 3-5 days to process. Takes a $1.50 per payment fee from U.S. customers and $5.00 from international customers.
- Check – Processes in up to 5 working days. $3 delivery fee.
- ACH (US only)– Also known as ‘Direct Deposit'. The money goes straight into your bank account. Takes a $1 Fee per payment.
TuneCore is partnered with Payoneer, which is a third-party payment system. This means that you withdraw money from TuneCore using Payoneer and in order to access your streaming royalties from TuneCore you have to set up an account with Payoneer first.
With Payoneer, you can withdraw your money via PayPal, a paper check, load it onto a prepaid Mastercard, or send it straight to your bank account.
TuneCore review all withdrawal requests in 3 business days. In most cases, your Payoneer account will be ready to manage your withdrawals within a few hours – in some cases, however, it may take a little longer for Payoneer to approve your application.
Here’s more information on the payment choices TuneCore offer:
|Payout Method||Fees||Minimum Withdrawal|
|PayPal||$0.25/transaction, 2% up to $20||$1|
|Bank Transfer||$1, $3, $5, varies by country||Varies by country|
|Paper Check/ACH||$5 per transaction||$100|
|Prepaid MasterCard||$1 per transaction||$2|
It’s advisable to use PayPal for both DistroKid and TuneCore users because it’s the fastest and best value option for users in most countries. While DistroKid charge more ($1) per transaction, their total ceiling on the additional 2% is lower ($2) whereas TuneCore charge $0.25 per Transaction with 2%, up to $20 USD. This means that if you’re making large withdrawals you’re better off with DistroKid.
TuneCore has a Music Publishing Administration arm which works to collect additional publishing royalties along with mechanical royalties. This is not a service offered by DistroKid. However, you can still collect publishing royalties by signing up to PRS or ASCAP.
TuneCore has memberships with rights collection bodies all over the world and they also use Rights App Technology to give artists more knowledge and control over how and where their music is being used.
- Global Performance Royalties – Every stream on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music generate a performance royalty as does your music being used on TV, radio, satellite radio, in bars, restaurants, concert venues and more.
- Global Micro-Sync Royalties – Every video with music created on Tik Tok or uploaded to YouTube generates both a performance and mechanical reproduction royalty
- Global Print Royalties – Anywhere your music or lyrics are printed, royalties are generated
TuneCore’s Publishing administration service ensures artists are not leaving money on the table for the songs they have written.
This is not to be mistaken for a Performance Rights Organisation like PRS – who collect performance royalties. TuneCore Publishing Administration works with PROs to locate and maximise performance royalties all over the world while also collecting additional revenue streams – like mechanical royalties that aren’t collected by PROs.
TuneCore offer the service for a one-time fee of $75 and you’re able to upload unlimited songs and opt-in to a sync licensing partnership which allows the creative team to put your work up for selection for TV, film, ads and other media opportunities.
Importantly, TuneCore allows you to keep 100% of the rights over your material. This means that you have total control over how and where your music is used and TuneCore simply collects the royalties you earn.
Store Reports & Analytics
Both DistroKid and TuneCore offer in-depth reporting on breakdowns from each store and platform.
Reporting is important to artists because it allows them to see where their music is doing best and form marketing plans based on data. It's also nice to have complete transparency when considering payments.
TuneCore has the edge over DistroKid in terms of analytics. They have a more comprehensive artist dashboard which gives you more options to investigate how your music is being distributed and received, across different countries and stores.
Do They Offer Payment Splitting?
Both TuneCore and Distrokid offer payment splits. These are incredibly useful for when you collaborate with other artists. Set the percentage split and TuneCore or Distrokid will pay each artist their share automatically!
You can set up splits between co-writers, producers, or band mates, and then the revenue will automatically be paid to them at the agreed percentage. When you’re working with many different people on a song or album it saves a lot of time and also removes any conflict within the group when revenue is split automatically.
Who Has The Best Marketing Tools? – Tunecore vs Distrokid
Neither service offers more in terms of marketing and artist development. Both have pre-saves, video generators and social tools, with great analytics. However, Distrokid has an edge in playlisting and provides a lyric search feature. TuneCore offers a graphic design tool and artist advances – which is something Distrokid doesn't have.
When it comes down to it, it's a preference thing. What would you rather have? To help you decide, we've covered what each service offers below in more detail.
In terms of artist development and marketing DistroKid offers:
Perhaps DistoKid’s most useful tool for artists, HyperFollow provides artists with one easy link to promote your music.
Your HyperFollow page takes fans directly to your music on all DSPs and has the option for them to automatically follow you on Spotify and save your release.
HyperFollow also includes high-powered analytical tools so you can monitor the demographics of your fans and see how they listen and engage with your release.
In an age where social media engagement is key to gaining streams, DistroKid’s mini videos help you get noticed online. They offer free, short, customised videos which you can post straight onto your social media to promote your release. These can be themed backgrounds to post on your IG story, or customised meme videos like Marcel the monkey from Friends.
DistroKid offers many free, instantly customisable images to promote releases online.
As a DistroKid user you can submit your songs to the DistroKid genre playlists and be voted for by listeners.
Wheel of Playlist
This is a novelty tool where you can spin the wheel and determine your placement in the DistroKid playlists. For example, if you spin the number 158, your track is placed at 158 on the playlist.
DistroKid allows you to add lyrics to your songs which are then made available on streaming services and search engines. This is a great tool if someone’s heard a lyric in your song and wants to find it again. You can also add time synced lyrics to your music which so listeners using Instagram (as well as Spotify and Apple Music) can really engage with and share your song.
In terms of artist development, Tunecore features:
TuneCore offers a points and free rewards system – the more points you earn the more rewards you get. These rewards include access to expert advice from people in the industry and VIP access to exclusive TuneCore services.
You get extra points for being a TuneCore artists and completing masterclasses. You also get the option to submit your music to playlists and partners like TikTok, Spotify, and Apple Music for special consideration.
This also includes the artist accelerator programme which aims to support artists by giving you priority access to the artist support team.
You also get access to TuneCore Social when you're a user, which allows you to set up pre-save links, run campaigns where you can collect your fans' emails in return for something, and even post directly to all socials from TuneCore.
This is a really powerful tool when used correctly, and TuneCore offer in-depth analytics on each campaign to show you what's performing the best.
You can make music visualiser videos, post to all your socials, find hashtags that are relevant to your music and more. TuneCore even offers a vast blog section that provides tutorials for marketing, business, production and other important information.
An exclusive graphic design app
The TuneCore graphic design function is a great free service which allows you to create your album art and promo material with layouts, images, presets, filters, fonts, and overlays. Check out their promo video here.
Access to artist advances
TuneCore offer artist advances to musicians too. This is an upfront sum paid to artists by TuneCore which is then automatically paid back through your TuneCore balance. This money is given to artists quickly after they request it and is given to artists who are ‘trusted’.
Artists who have 12 months of continuous earnings totalling at least $870 are defined as “trusted artists”. This is based on past earnings and qualification is determined on sales history and projected sales from your distribution through TuneCore.
The advances are a brilliant tool for independent artists who need more financial support and flexibility to further their careers. However, you will have to pay them back, so be wary when taking them. They are essentially short-term loans.
What About Customer Service?
DistroKid and TuneCore both offer great customer service support to artists. The response time is quick for both, however, there are a lot of issues that aren't always fully understood or where copy and paste FAQ answers are sent back. You will pay more for customer service on TuneCore than you will with Distrokid.
Judging by reviews on sites like Trust Pilot and Reddit people are generally impressed by the support they receive from both distributors.
That being said there are the same complaints regarding email responses which follow templates and sometimes difficulty in explaining the issues properly over email – but this is almost always the case with any tech customer support.
However, customer service with TuneCore is staggered depending on which package you’re subscribed to. With the free tier they have a response time of 5 business days, with ‘Rising Artist’ it’s 72 hours, with ‘Breakout Artist’ it’s 48 hours, and with ‘Professional’ it’s 24 hours.
DistroKid offers a high level of customer service to all users whereas with TuneCore it depends on how much you’re paying.
Who Wins on Price?
Distrokid wins on price in the higher tiers, TuneCore wins in the lower tiers. TuneCore offers the same as Distrokid's musician plus plan, with publishing royalty collection, for $5 less, but comes with a slower support response. You get 1 less artist, with the option to add more for $14.99. However, there are no extra costs with TuneCore.
With both services, we’d recommend opting for the pricing option that gives you optional release dates:
- Musician Plus ($35.99/year) – Distrokid
- Breakout Artist ($29.99/year) – TuneCore
The lowest DistroKid tier gives you unlimited distribution at no extra cost but you can’t control your release date. Similarly, there is a free tier for TuneCore, but this does not distribute to digital stores. Instead, it puts it up on social media libraries and then takes a 20% commission on all revenue.
The difficulty in comparing the pricing models for each service is that each tier offers different things. With DistroKid’s lowest tier you get Spotify verification and full customer support access however with TuneCore you don’t get these unless you pay for a higher tier. This works the same both ways and it is cheaper for you to set your release date on TuneCore and there are fewer paid add-ons than DistroKid.
While DistroKid offers one of the lowest prices for distribution compared to other major music distribution companies, they offer lots of extras at a high premium.
DistroKid Extras pricing:
- Shazam & iPhone Siri– $0.99/year/song.
- Store Maximizer – $7.95/album/year (automatically delivers songs to new stores).
- YouTube Content ID – $4.95/single/year.
- Cover Song Licensing – $12/cover song.
- Leave a legacy – $29/single/year or, $49/album/year (keep tracks up for life)
- Tidal Master – $8.99/single or, $17.99/album (displays master badge on Tidal)
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because this is how they offer such a low price and none of these things is essential for a successful release. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on costs and what other distributors offer, as these costs can pile up quickly.
What The Community is Saying About Tunecore vs Distrokid
DistroKid seems to be a favourite for most people in the music industry. On Trust Pilot they have a 4.7 star rating which is pretty impressive. Tunecore have been tarnished with bad reviews in the past, but they have since done a lot to treat artists much better. They are quickly becoming one of the best digital distribution services and this is reflected in their Trust Pilot rating which is 4.2 stars.
If you dig through Reddit reviews and other online articles, people do find fault with DistroKid in terms of its outdated user interface and additional costs, but they seem to prefer it to TuneCore. DistroKid seems to benefit from simplicity in costing and service. You know what you’re going to pay and what you’re going to get whereas with TuneCore their more complex systems and modelling seem to confuse or at least put off many new artists.
The case with all distributors is that so far none are perfect – they all have benefits and drawbacks. It is really up to the artist who uses it. You need to determine which features you think are important and look at which distributor offers what you need and how much that will cost you.
Distrokid vs The Competition
There is a tonne of competitors to Distrokid and you might be choosing between many different services. Using our team of producers who have tried and tested each platform, we've written incredibly in-depth reviews for you, so you can find out the facts and decide which is best.
Joe is an Indie artist/producer based in Brighton.